Highways staff to wear body cameras in Cambridgeshire to 'protect staff from aggressive motorists'

PUBLISHED: 09:57 11 September 2019

John Birkenhead, business director at Skanska who will be rolling out body cameras for their highways staff. Picture: LDR / Ben Hatton

John Birkenhead, business director at Skanska who will be rolling out body cameras for their highways staff. Picture: LDR / Ben Hatton

LDR / Ben Hatton

Highways maintenance workers will wear body cameras in Cambridgeshire to protect staff from aggressive motorists.

John Birkenhead, business director at Skanska who will be rolling out body cameras for their highways staff. Picture: LDR / Ben HattonJohn Birkenhead, business director at Skanska who will be rolling out body cameras for their highways staff. Picture: LDR / Ben Hatton

Construction company Skanska, which is contracted by Cambridgeshire County Council for highways maintenance, said its staff will receive the cameras in the next week.

The company will be rolling the policy out nationally, but Cambridgeshire is the first area to receive them.

The company's business director, John Birkenhead, said: "On a regular basis members of our workforce are verbally abused by members of the public and that's on a weekly basis, and that's an industry-wide recognised problem.

"We have had several instances where physical violence has taken place and where staff have had to try and remove themselves from the situation."

He said it was a national problem, but added: "We have had incidents in Cambridgeshire which have made us decide to provide body worn cameras to our employees.

"It just seems to be an indictment on the society that we live in at the moment that everyone is in a rush and doesn't want to be held up for any reason whatsoever.

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"We all have a job to do and we just ask members of the public to be patient and understand what we are doing. It is not only for our safety but for their safety as well."

Mr Birkenhead said it was a "growing problem".

He told the county council's highways and infrastructure committee the cameras would be delivered in the next week, and that staff would be encouraged to wear them.

CCTV signs will be put out to inform the public there are cameras in the area.

He said confrontation can be caused by something "as simple as people being held up by traffic lights" or thinking they have the right to pass through a closed section of road.

He described how items are thrown at workers out of the windows of vehicles as they pass by.

"The closures are only there for health and safety reasons to protect our workforce and members of the public," he said.

"Members of the public can get a little irate and sometimes aggressive".

He said staff receive training for such incidents, and will try to remove themselves from the situation, but that "these cameras are a deterrent that will hopefully protect them".

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